Post Office... Or DMV?

personal comments edit

I went to the post office yesterday to mail off my first eBay sale and was dismayed at the whole experience.

Let me step back a bit, though, and explain some of the lead-up.

I sold one of my shirts on eBay and was trying to figure out the best way to get the item in the mail on time. I got payment through PayPal (which, by the way, turns out to be a total scam if you want to accept credit card payments, but that’s another story), and I told the buyer yesterday morning that I’d get the item in the mail that day.

Facilities at work has a mail scale and postage machine and is nice enough to sometimes let us buy postage from them directly rather than going to the post office. I sent an email to the facilities manager to find out if we could send priority mail with delivery confirmation and insurance from here. He said they could. So I went down to the mail room…

… and no one was there. BAH. The facilities manager has to be there with the key to the postage machine, so no go. I went back to my desk.

I tried about once an hour for a few more hours, but at 2:30p or so, after not finding him there, I sent another email - “When’s the best time to come down and mail this?” The response: “In the morning.” No no no no no! It needs to go out today!

Time to go to the post office.

There are two in the area. One’s a half mile away, one’s five miles away. I went to the one a half mile away…

… to find out that it’s a “detached carrier unit,” which means you can drop your stuff off, but they don’t sell postage. Shit. So I went to the other post office.

Now, you gotta figure - it’s like 3:00p, the lunch rush should be over and I should be able to get through the PO with minimal effort, right? Dude, the line was out the door when I got there. They had three people (out of four possible) working the counters, and it was utter gridlock. It took me, seriously, nearly 45 minutes to get my package mailed. Ridiculous. Why does it take so long?

It occurred to me that going to the Post Office is like going to the DMV. They’re all government workers, which implies they may or may not have incentive to work any faster; there’s no sense of urgency; there’s an underlying level of incompetence that you can’t quite put your finger on; and you don’t have a choice in the matter.

I sat and watched as one of the people working the counter took a package from a person and walked it around for, seriously, like five full minutes trying to figure out which bin it went in. There were only four bins! Pick one!

One customer asked for a particular type of $0.10 stamp. Maybe he’s a collector or something. The clerk didn’t have it. The clerk asked the other clerks; they also didn’t have it. The clerk then went on a ten minute hunt for the stamps, just to find out that they didn’t have any. Come on, people. If you don’t have the stamp, you don’t have stamp. Move on!

And you know what? The whole reason I went there was because the customer I sent the shirt to wanted insurance on a $12 package. Insurance for $12 costs $1.30. Why?! Bah. If she hadn’t wanted insurance, I could have printed my postage off my computer - priority mail with delivery confirmation - and never had to deal with it. Irritating.